The L Word
Playing at the Melbourne Film Festival, L is the newest film from the Greek Weird Wave, just don’t you be calling it that!
The most beautiful art often springs from the worst hardships, in film as in so much else. Babis Makridis doesn't believe that his breakthrough comedic film, L, would have turned out quite the same had circumstances been different in Greece. "The challenge was to find the money to do it," says Makridis. When asked to reflect upon how the economic catastrophe had influenced his film, he sighs like a man who has walked too far. But he's philosophical. "Years ago, the only money we had was from the government," he says. "We write a script, we take it there, if they like it they give us money. We wait, for one, two, three years to get the money," he says. "Now, there is no money. So there is also no waiting. Now you get the script, you gather your friends... you say, ‘we will have this kind of money to do it'. They say, ‘let's do it'. We don't give a shit about the money."
Apparently, that set-up works pretty well. Co-written by Makridis (his first feature film) and Efthymis Filippou (Dogtooth, Alps), L follows a man (Aris Servetalis) who lives and works as a driver, his only client an upper class narcoleptic for whom he procures a single jar of honey each morning from a local beekeeper. Never leaving the safety of his car, he sleeps, eats, and meets his kids for his weekly visit from behind the safety of a four door Mercedes. Haunted by the company of his dead best friend who pretended to be a bear, the man is leaning towards the unbalanced - but in a funny, thoughtful kind of way. L is astonishingly beautiful in both cinematography, and in its strong, slow silence. "The camera waits for the action, like a viewer. Truly nothing moves at all. This was the idea for the treatment of the camera from the start."
L is a remarkably beautiful film, part of what Makridis cringes at calling the ‘new wave' [aka Weird Wave] of Greek cinema. Makridis himself shies away from watching contemporary film to avoid being influenced, to try to say something new (the only film he watched while making L was George A. Romero's Knightriders, a film about a bikie gang who think they are knights). L is first and foremost a comedic film, though it is rich with touches of the macabre. Makridis feels that this is merely part of the balance life throws at everyone. "It's not dark humour, I think it is a humour that makes you laugh, but in a way that you laugh a lot, and you're laughing, laughing, laughing, and the doctors don't know what to do. And you keep laughing and give the creeps to everyone."
While you probably won't laugh quite that much, you'll laugh despite yourself - and you won't be sure why; L is delicate, funny and beautiful, and is bound to be one of your favourite films at MIFF in 2012.
For more on L and other films playing at MIFF, head to the website.